This can be used as a temporal particle for related events—e.g. I cut the apples and then ate them—or as a particle to express cause—e.g. I am hungry so I want to eat. Thus, is there a reliable way to tell them apart? Or is it left solely to the context of the sentence?

1 Answer 1


I would say it solely depends on the context. Note that the suffixes can also mean manner, and I think the OP's first example (temporal ordering) is more natural to interpret as manner. Examples of -어/-아, -어서 as manner suffix

  • 걸어서 가다
    to go by walking
  • 달려 가다
    to go by running
  • 잘라 먹다 vs 통으로 먹다
  • 깍아서 먹다 vs 껍질째 먹다

And finally, -어/-아 also can be a connection suffix for some light verbs. For example,

  • 다 써 버렸다
    used all up
  • 한 번 써 보았다
    tried to use it once
  • 끝없이 졸라 대다
    keep nagging endlessly

and more.

On a side note: Generally, philosophically, and epistemically, beyond the suffixes in question, it's really hard to differentiate temporal orders from causal orders in many cases. The confusion, I think, has been the origin of many conspiracy theories, for example.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.